December 25, 2017: A tree crosses the line

See The Jerusalem Post's apology at the end.

By
December 24, 2017 22:42
Letters

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A tree crosses the line

Lev Stesin concludes his article (“Let there be tree!” Comment & Features, December 21) by saying: “The [Christmas] tree will only make our homes more beautiful and ourselves stronger to meet another year of our eternal struggle.”

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While it is not clear what he means by “our eternal struggle,” it is very clear that the idea of Jews having Christmas trees in their homes will only weaken them spiritually, culturally and ethnically.

In fact, in almost every country and era, Jews having Christmas trees was always seen, at best, as trying to be accepted by their gentile neighbors and associates and, at worst, as a sign of troubling assimilation that never ended with a tree.

His insistence that the Christmas tree has become very “secularized” means nothing. People and cultures give meaning to symbols, and not the opposite. Using Stesin’s reasoning, even the crucifix is nothing more than the structure ancient Rome used to execute criminals and enemies, so why not wear it as jewelry? And Stesin himself concurs that the origins of the Christmas tree are “indeed religious and Christian.”

Finally, despite having come from a family of “very secular progressive Jewish types, the ones who devour pork on Yom Kippur,” my parents saw Jews having Christmas trees as crossing the line into Christian culture, no matter how secularized it might have become.

GERSHON HARRIS
Hatzor Haglilit

Rabbinical facts, please

Before you publish an editorial, you need to check all of the facts on the subject. There are a number of errors in “Rabbinical racket” (Editorial, December 22) which need to be corrected.

Rabbis can serve until age 75, with the option of an extension to age 80. In the last year Rabbi Israel Meir Lau of Tel Aviv and Rabbi Yaakov Ariel of Ramat Gan have retired. In addition, a rabbi must be under 70 to be elected.

Rabbis in Kfar Saba and Yehud have been removed because they did not reside in the city in which they served, which is a violation of the rules that govern city rabbis.

Many city rabbis are connected with local yeshivot, which is part of their function to act as the leading Jewish educator in their city. Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz of Ra’anana took a leave of absence when he went to live in Jerusalem to study for the rabbinical judge exams. He also has been part of the team that has carried out a reform of the kashrut mechanism which has become the model for nationwide reform.

This oversight is another instance of the paper’s recent antireligious and unbalanced editorial policy.

SHMUEL SCHWARTZ
Ra’anana

Call a spade a spade

In the article discussing the Palestinians’ move to replace the US with Russia or China as a mediator for the Israel-Arab conflict (“PA looks to Russia, China to upstage US,” December 20) you report the Palestinian use of the term “peace process” no fewer than seven times, as well as the use of the words “peacemaking” and “peace negotiations” once each.

I find the use of such lofty expressions by the Palestinians (and unfortunately much of the international community) inappropriate at the very least and, more often, intentionally misleading.

What the Palestinians actually mean by “peace process” is the establishment of a forum to mobilize international pressure to force Israel into making unilateral concessions, without the Palestinians having to admit any responsibility or offer any parallel concessions.

That is why the Palestinians need to seek out mediators and multinational bodies to fight their battles.

Let’s call a spade a spade and stop allowing the unchallenged use of grand, politically correct euphemisms like “peacemaking,” “peace negotiations” and “peace process.” The more appropriate term would be “coerce Israel process.”

MAYER BASSAN
Jerusalem

Watch that scheduling, BBC

Good to see that the BBC will make programs focusing on other faiths (“BBC pledges more focus on Judaism, other faiths, and not just on Christianity,” December 21). I trust it will also make sure that those programs of Jewish interest are not shown only on Friday nights or Jewish holidays, as has happened so often in the past! HELEN REISMAN London/Netanya Misleading statement on Poland In “EU-Israel Ties in 2018 – managing expectations” (Comment & Features, December 18), it was disquieting to read Raanan Eliaz’s egregiously misleading statement: “Poland...

evades responsibility for the Holocaust – not a good starting point for helping the Jewish state.” Whatever Polish society’s acts of commission or omission toward the Jews in its midst (or its problematic present-day confrontation with that chapter of its history), it must be recognized that the Germans and the Austrians were both the masterminds of the Final Solution and its prime executioners. To suggest otherwise is to distort history. Careless yet all too common references to Auschwitz-Birkenau as a “Polish death camp” based on its geographic location are counterfactual and calumnious.

For the record, Polish-Israeli relations are excellent and mutually beneficial. The innumerable professional and people-to-people contacts between the two countries and the growing tourist traffic is facilitated by an ever-increasing number of low-cost flights between Tel Aviv and Warsaw as well as other Polish cities. Trade has flourished in recent years, and the hi-tech realm is seen as an especially promising nexus. Polish firms are working closely with Israeli start-ups, as they seek to replicate the experience of the vaunted “Start- Up Nation.” Cooperation in the military and intelligence spheres has also been particularly intense and fruitful, and Poland is especially interested in Israel’s advanced cybersecurity technology.

Significantly, Poland was one of only a handful of EU member states (all of them post-Communist countries) to abstain in the UN General Assembly vote (Resolution A/ES-10/L.22) condemning the US for announcing its intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem. France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom all voted in favor of the resolution.

LAURENCE WEINBAUM
Director, Israel Council on Foreign Relations
Jerusalem

Coming home to roost

For the better part of the 20th century, too many South African Jews behaved as cowards.

While they did not advocate for apartheid, few had any qualms about benefiting from its preferential treatment of whites and degrading treatment of blacks. Had they at least been open advocates of apartheid, they would have had the courage of their convictions. By ducking their heads while taking advantage of the situation, their behavior was more shameful, even if they treated their indentured servants less brutally than the Afrikaners did.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and Israel tragically is paying the price (“South Africa ruling party decides to downgrade embassy in Israel,” December 22). No doubt we will be seeing a sharp uptick in South African aliya – to Australia. The cowards always find a way to weasel out.

JJ GROSS
Jerusalem

APOLOGY

With regard to Caroline B. Glick’s “Israel’s learning disabled Right” (Our World, December 22), The Jerusalem Post apologizes for the headline.

We now recognize that it was offensive to some of our readers – and that, of course, was not our intention.


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